Drivers navigate the wheel in a virtual world of distractions


In recognition of National Distracted Driving Month, the Texas Department of Transportation is launching its “Heads up, Texas” campaign to remind drivers that their undivided attention to the road could save a life. 

When we get behind the wheel of a vehicle, cell phones are one of our biggest distractions. With the help of virtual reality TxDOT is showing drivers why taking that call, text, email or posting that social media status can wait.

Partnering with AT&T It Can Wait, TxDOT aims to change distracted-driving behaviors that last year resulted in 100,687 crashes, 444 deaths and 2,889 serious injuries.

TxDOT Spokesperson Brad Wheelis says that safety is the agency’s main priority.

“We want to move people as efficiently as possible, but we want to move them as safely as possible.”

The traveling exhibit made a stop at Gregory Gym at the University of Texas. Wheelis says making sure the importance of putting away distractions while driving hits home with younger drivers.

“Virtual reality is a newer technology we know that’s attractive to young people,” says Wheelis, “So, we’re taking it to UT to connect with those younger drivers and let them know that distracted driving is a huge problem, and we can prevent that.”

A survey done by TxDOT and AT&T found that most people agree using smartphones is dangerous, but nearly 9 in 10 Texans admit they drive and use their phone.

So, far just this year nearly 1,700 citations have been written for distracted driving in the City of Austin. 

TxDOT wants to remind drivers that with so many work zones on many of our major roads — it’s all the more reason to make sure your phone is not a distraction when you’re behind the wheel.

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